By Adam Newman
Each year at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show there are some clear trends. Randonneuring bikes, disc brake cyclocross bikes, track and fixed gear bikes, and 650b mountain bikes have all had their moment in the sun. This year the clear favorite for custom builds was fat bikes.
More than a dozen builders had fat bikes in their booths, and here’s a sampling:
This show bike was designed and built by Moots in conjunction with the International Mountain Bike Association and the Routt County Riders, Moots’ local bike club and IMBA chapter.
The concept is a fully capable trail maintenance vehicle that can carry all the critical trail building tools: 18-inch chainsaw (with titanium chain guard); extra fuel; rogue hoe (with collapsing, titanium handle); folding saw; pruners; gloves; and of course, a six pack.
Built around the Surly Knard 29×3.0 tires and 50mm Rabbit Hole rims, it looks hefty but weighs in at a reasonable 45lbs, chainsaw included. Porcelain Rocket made the custom frame bag.
The bike doesn’t have a name—Moots has been calling it the Chainsaw Bike—but it was chosen for Best Theme Bike and People’s Choice at the show.
The Go Rider long-tail fat bike from Bamboorsera is designed to meet the needs of rural Africans and to be built in Africa from locally sourced bamboo, while the imported components were chosen to be as maintenance-free as possible.
The fat tires provide suspension over undeveloped roads and can protect the rims when underinflated. The headset and bottom bracket bearings were replaced with nylon bushings that don’t turn nearly as well as bearings, but will last for years with no maintenance. The Nuvinci 360 hub provides a wide gear range while protecting the gears from the elements.
Rather than be sold outright, the Go Rider will be rented to merchants, farmers, tourists, and others who need a sturdy form of transportation in an impoverished area.
Rick Hunter built this long-tail fat bike for Scott Felter, the founder and owner of Porcelain Rocket, the framebag maker. Hunter’s first fat bike, it features his signature fork crown, albeit on a slightly larger scale. The huge fork legs mate to an extra rear wheel out front, just in case.
The long cargo rack out back is completely removable should Felter decide to travel light.
In what was a common theme at the show, this fat tandem can accommodate either a 29×3.0 tire or a “traditional” 26×3.8 tire . Propulsion is handled by a Rohloff and Paragon Machine Works swinger dropouts.
The custom truss fork was built with an offset, so it can be swapped for a Maverick suspension fork if the trails get extra tough. The rest of the frame is TIG welded with brass or silver brazing on the sleeved sections.
Not only are the tubes curved, they are made from butted tubing, which is very difficult to bend properly and the top tube and lateral tube are custom ovalized from True Temper Verus steel.
The handlebars and both stems are also custom made from titanium.
This triple top tubed Retrotec was awarded Best Mountain bike, and combined vintage style with 29×3.0 wheels and tires. The old-school looks blended seamlessly with the dropper seatpost and modern Shimano XTR drivetrain.
Titanium wizards Black Sheep had not one, but four fat bikes in its booth, including this full-suspension model with a custom truss fork that utilized a Fox CTD rear shock integrated.
The rear end employs a swing link and a titanium plate at the bottom bracket for a pivot-free 90 millimeters of travel. Even with the extra suspension systems, the complete bike clocks in a just 32lbs.
Erik Noren of Peacock Groove is known for pulling no punches on his “super deep custom” builds. When he ran into trouble with the chainstays being too short for this glittery fat bike, he added an extra section to the bottom bracket shell, giving him the clearance he needed. What name popped into mind? You can read it below.
The crazy peacock dropouts are a signature style and the logo on the downtube is looking sharp. Even the saddle was custom embroidered.
There were so many fat bikes we couldn’t fit them into one post. Click here to read part 2.